DENVER -- There was good reason for an afternoon celebration at DSST Cole High School in northeast Denver.
Seventy-eight reasons to be exact.
Every Cole High School senior will be graduating and going to colleges and major universities.
It’s a huge accomplishment for Flor Canales.
She is the first to graduate from high school and go to a university in her family. “When I was in 9th grade I didn’t see myself going to college but now that I’m here it’s kind of surreal and it’s amazing.”
It was also nerve wracking for the 17-year-old from the Globeville neighborhood.
“I didn’t know if they (colleges) were going to accept me or if they would reject me. So, I was extremely nervous but once I opened the congratulations letters, I started jumping up and down. And I realized I made it!”
Canales, a DACA student, has been accepted to five colleges.
Her story is not unique at this charter school.
These kids' drive and teachers' tenacity get some of the credit.
Teacher and advisor Dara Zack said, “If you can help them achieve their goals instead of checking things off the box because that’s what society tells us to, I think that’ really important.”
And so are relationships.
Director of College Placement Gabe Godoy said, “The 78 students that graduate, I can tell you story after story after story of each one of them because we really take the time to get to know them.”
Many of these students never dreamed they would get to go to college or a university.
“I was like oh my gosh no way and my mom turns at me and says, 'are you serious – no way!'” Canales said.
Seventy-eight smiles this day ... 78 dreams.
Lives forever changed in the halls of old Cole High.